Chasity and her children arrive at the funeral home in the morning before most others, and take seats in the front pew on the left side
where friends are to be seated, and also on the inside aisle where people have to walk to view the bodies. She’s glad they get there early for not too long after, many people begin to arrive. The parlor quickly fills up with friends and family so fast that in no time, there’s standing room only. She sees some childhood friends, and they exchange cordial greetings. She knows Asia’s not there yet because she hasn’t seen her, so she settles back and waits. It’s a modest funeral home that’s similar to many others in the Bronx, consisting of blank faced employees. The pews are made of wood, and there’s dark grey carpet on the floor with dingy matching walls. The only color and bright features are the multitude of various flower arrangements strategically placed around the main viewing area. Squeezing through people, the funeral director slowly makes his way to the front of the parlor. When he gets in the middle, he asks for everyone to either find a seat, or please stand to the side and back, to make a clearing for the family. This allows Asia’s brothers and their families, who walk in first, access to the coffins, then, she and her family, bring up the rear.
Just as Asia approaches the front where the coffins are, she trips on a snag in the rug. Even though her arms and hands instinctively fly out in front of her to break her fall, it seems to be futile for she’s certain that her face is going to meet the ground. But, just as she’s about to hit
the carpet, a hand grabs her arm, and stops her fall. It takes Asia a few seconds to realize the hand is not her husbands, and that it belongs to someone else, and that someone is Chasity. She didn’t even know that Chasity is here until now, and boy is she ever grateful. Her friend smiles and boldly declares, “hey, girl, I got you!” She tries to smile back, but only manages a brief lift of her eyebrows, and croaks, “thank you”. Chasity continues holding Asia’s hand and helps her to her mother’s coffin to view the body. They then slowly move to her father’s, view his body too, and finally head to where Asia and her family are to be seated. Chasity hugs and kisses her before returning to her own seat. Troy and the boys join her, and seeing the question on his face, and before he can ask, she whispers, “that’s Chasity”. He doesn’t have to reply because the look on his face says it all.
Glad cannot begin to describe how Chasity feels about saving Asia from falling, she needs a much stronger word to depict her sentiments. And the closest that she can come to is to believe that the Lord is already making it possible for her to show her gratitude. The day of the reunion between the two of them has finally come, and God has ordained it as an anointed event, even though it’s a sorrowful time. For Chasity knew she and Asia would one day be reunited as adults. She just didn’t know how personal their coming together would be. Here it is they are both at vulnerable times of their lives, and have urgent desires for clarifications and needs. But they are still able to lend one another a helping hand. She can offer her friend moral, and spiritual support, whereas Asia can give physical and psychological comfort. Even though chaos reigns around them, they can be rest assured that these counter, balancing, positive forces will make things more tolerable. Chasity’s going to make sure that the loving, respectful, and amicable relationship they had as children will continue to blossom and evolve now as adults.
Here at another funeral, her own parent’s funeral, makes Asia once again think deeply of, and analyze things about life. She’s having the déjà vu feeling again, and remembers a co-worker once tell her that as
you get older, you attend more funerals. She slowly drifts into another dimension as she focuses one ear on the funeral proceedings, and the other inside her head. She begins philosophizing: we’re born, things happen to us, we do things, life occurs, and then we die. Is it really that fast? Things happen for a reason, it might be by chance, at least that’s what many people think, but what they don’t know is much of what happens to us is pre-ordained, it’s destiny. It’s built into the framework of our lives. We’re given paths to choose, and everyone has to figure out what path in life to take. Sometimes we choose the right one, and sometimes we choose the wrong one. But, whatever road you travel, make certain it’s the right one, and if it’s not, then stop, turn around, and find the correct one no matter how hard it may seem. Ask the Lord for help to guide you in the right direction, then send you on your way. For even when you take two steps forward, and end up one step backwards, if you continue stepping forward, you will eventually get to where you should be, even if at a slower pace.
Someone tapping her shoulder snaps Asia out of her subconscious rambling, and brings her back to reality. It’s the funeral director asking her if she wants to say anything. “No sir, I don’t”. “Okay ma’am, then now you’ll receive the well - wishers”. In a daze, she hugs and kisses, and shakes hands, and thanks, and nods her head over and over in what seems like a never, ending task until finally the last person has come and gone. She then jumps up from the pew and runs to the bathroom for she has to use the toilet really bad. She makes it just in time, lifts up her dress, literally rips off her stockings, but doesn’t have time to remove her panties so she pees right through them. Afterwards, she removes her underwear and stockings, shoves them into her purse, cleans herself up, then opens the bathroom stall and finds Chasity standing at the sink. She lets out a deep sigh of relief, washes her hands, and collapses into her friends waiting arms for she is exhausted. The years just melt away for Asia feels the same warmth, and comfort she felt with her friend as when they were children. Chasity doesn’t say a word, she just quietly hugs her friend and readies herself for whatever
more she may need. Asia raises her head and says, “thanks”. “No, thank you Asia. Tell me what you need me to do”. “Okay, let’s go, my husband’s waiting for me. I’ll tell you the plans so we all can hear them together”.
When they exit the bathroom, the women see Chasity’s son and daughter, waiting for her, alongside Troy and the boys. They walk up to them and once again after the hugging, kissing, and greetings, Asia begins speaking, “these are the plans, after the burial and repast, Chasity, if you don’t mind, and Troy, we’ll get our bags and stuff from my parent’s, and bring them to your house. Chasity, we’ll all spend the night at your house. How does that sound?” Troy just stands there listening. Chasity responds with, “that sounds like a good plan, but in the morning, I’ll need someone to take me to get Harry from the hospital”. “I can do that for you”, Troy says, finally speaking. “Thank you so very much, and God bless you, Troy. I never got the chance to tell you how grateful I am to you, and will forever be in your debt”. “Don’t mention it, don’t mention it! I’m glad to help out any one of God’s children, and my wife’s good friend. Let’s get going, I think they’re waiting on us”. The rest of the funeral progresses on schedule, and then they put Asia’s itinerary into action, ending up at Chasity’s apartment like planned.
In the morning, Troy takes Chasity to get Harry out the hospital, while Asia stays with the kids. She takes them to McDonald’s to get breakfast and only then realizes that things are still bad in the city. Caitlin and Jacob tell her about what happened the last time they were here, and this helps Asia put their parent’s financial status into perspective. What it means is that Harry and Chasity are broke, leaving she and Troy to foot the bill. She hopes this isn’t going to be too much for him, she knows it’s already a lot. Anyway, he probably has already figured it out, Troy is a smart man; many times, he picks up on things faster than she does. She trusts that it will be alright, and has faith that God’s going to take care of it. She looks up at the high ceiling and says a silent prayer. Chasity is also saying a silent prayer at the same
time, she’s praying that Harry is well enough to be released from the hospital and able to travel long distance. And both of their prayers are answered, for Harry is healing ahead of schedule and is given the okay to go home as well as travel, and Troy has come to terms with taking on whatever it’s going to entail to help the Cromwells.
As is his custom, Troy takes the lead in moving all the stuff. Harry is told to stay seated in a chair, while Troy carries the mattresses and bed frames to his jeep. He ties and secures them on the top rack, as the children bring the pillows, sheets, blankets, and comforters. Chasity and Asia pack boxes into her car along with two chairs they’re also bringing. On one of the last trips, Gladys opens her apartment door, bringing she and Chasity face to face. She purposely bumps into her, “oh, excuse me”, she says. “That’s okay, Gladys”. “Um, you’re going somewhere, Chasity?” “Yes, Gladys, I am. We’re moving to Pennsylvania”. With wide open and shocked eyes, Gladys gasps, “you are?” “Yes, we are”. “And you weren’t going to say anything to me? Like goodbye?” “I wasn’t sure if you wanted me to, what with how you’ve been acting towards me and my family”. Asia’s standing by quietly watching and listening to the exchange between the two women. Chasity finally says, “Gladys, this is my childhood and still best friend I’ve told you about. Asia this is Gladys”. They both shake hands, “nice to meet you”, Asia says and smiles. Glady says, “you too”, but doesn’t smile.
The air is so thick that Asia wants to cut it with a knife just to find out if something or someone will actually bleed. Turning back to Chasity, Gladys stammers, “I didn’t mean you no harm, Chas, I was just confused and bugging out”. “No harm taken”. “I, wow, it’s just that I didn’t expect you to be going anywhere”. “Well, I thank the Lord and my friend that I am escaping from this city. I prayed so long and hard on it that I knew God was gonna answer my prayers one day, and he did”. Gladys is so jealous that she doesn’t know what to say. She does know it’s not fair because she was supposed to be moving out of the city too, but her brother reneged on his deal. And now here is Chasity
getting out of the city with just a friend. Her own family won’t even take her, and she’s feeling cheated, first by her brother, and now by her friend. The accusation is broken by Asia saying, “Chas, I think this is the last of it, I’ll meet you downstairs”, and she gets on the elevator, leaving Chasity and Gladys alone. The two women who have been friends for a long time are stuck in a very awkward moment, and Chasity is filled with sorrow for her neighbor. For Gladys’ children, George and Janelle, are now standing at the door looking with puppy dog eyes at Chasity. She sees a tear roll down Gladys’ cheek making her feel guilty.
Wait a minute, she thinks to herself, she has no reason to feel guilty about anything. Maybe she should have been the bigger person and made amends with Gladys, but she knows she sure didn’t do nothing wrong, nevertheless, when Harry, Caitlin, and Jacob come out of the apartment for the final time, she has them all hug, and kiss, and it turns into a tearful goodbye. Now sniffing, Gladys says, “Chasity, you are so lucky to be moving out of this crazy city. I wish we were going with you”. A bell goes off inside her head and Chasity realizes it’s a warning signal, but she ignores it. “Well, Gladys, don’t give up hope. Continue to pray like I did, and God will answer your prayers. I wish you and the kids luck!” “Stay in touch, Chas, lets us know how ya’ll are doing. I’m gonna miss you guys!” “We’ll miss you too”, and Chasity is sincere when she says this because she will really miss her neighbor and children. Caitlin and Jacob are going to miss their friends too, they say, as they all wave goodbye feeling this is the last time they will probably see each other. The Cromwells get on the dirty, pissy, project’s elevator they hope for the last time in their lives.
Asia, Chasity, Caitlin, and Jacob travel back to the Pennsylvania mountains in her packed to the brink Volvo, while Troy, Harry, Junior, and Beary also in the stuffed jeep follow behind. Chasity feels a heavy weight being lifted off her shoulders, the farther away they get from the city. She feels like she’s leaving many worries behind, and beginning a new life. Never, in her wildest dreams did she think her childhood best
friend would help she and her family create a better life for themselves. No, she needs to stop, here she is doubting the Lord and herself again, and she shouldn’t be. The Lord has been showing her what’s to come in her dreams, so she knew what was about to happen. She knew that they would eventually get out of the city, and end up in a better place. But if that dream is now coming to past, she’s scared to think, what about the other one. She hasn’t mentioned anything about the Mark of the Beast dream to Asia yet, but she knows she’s going to eventually have to. She knows Asia’s having the dream too, as well as Harry, but she’s not entirely sure about Troy. She’ll talk about it later on, when the right time presents itself. She also knows that she’ll probably have to create a right time. But for now, she’s just going to enjoy the ride, and the happy, gushy feeling inside.
She glances over at Asia and would give a penny for her thoughts because her friend is quiet. She brushes it off, and uses the excuse that Asia is extremely exhausted because it’s been a very emotional week for her. Heck, first she had to bury both her parents at the same time, and then figure out how to get her friend and family back to Pennsylvania all in one weekend. And she actually did it without a hitch. The only thing that came close to a hitch was seeing Gladys and her kids, and Thank God, that worked out well. Now they’re on the road and the Lord is showing them favor for there doesn’t seem to be as much traffic, nor accidents as Asia said there normally is, and she sees it as a good sign. Asia does too, for she comments on it breaking the silence, “I don’t want to say anything too early and jinx us, but traffic is flowing more smoothly than usual.”. “I’m glad it is, and I think it’s a good omen”, Chasity replies with a bright smile, and Asia smiles back which warms her friend’s heart. She looks behind her and watches Caitlin and her brother sleep the soundest they have in a long while, and she says a silent prayer of thanks to the heavens up above.